Here at THSC, parental rights and the defense of home schooling remain our top priorities. Our experiences during the 2015 Legislative Session reflect both the productive results of our long hours at work and the significant obstacles created by those who oppose these values.
The THSC Watchmen, six young home school graduates recruited to defend home schooling and parental rights at the Texas Legislature, identified and tracked 149 bills related to home schooling and parental rights out of more than 11,000 pieces of legislation.
Through five months of grueling work and long hours, the THSC Watchmen testified in committee, drafted legislation and amendments, negotiated changes to bills, rallied votes for and against critical issues, and won the respect of the Texas Legislature.
The THSC Watchmen fought for your freedom in the legislature through three different means:
- Crafting new laws supporting your freedom
- Defeating laws suppressing your freedom
- Guarding against potential threats to your freedom
New Laws Supporting Your Freedom
THSC officially and successfully supported five pieces of legislation protecting parental rights in the realms of end-of-life treatment, parental consent for abortion, and higher education, and in the family courts. With the passing of these five bills, Texas families can rest assured of their parental rights and home schooling protections in these areas of the law.
At the beginning of the session, THSC prioritized the passing of three pieces of legislation to protect and further open up freedoms in Texas. One bill navigated all the way through the process to the Governor’s desk, and the second piece made major strides forward in opening up significant opportunities for Texas home school families. The third bill was blocked in committee.
- The Equal College Opportunity bill (SB 1543) passed unanimously by both chambers and protects home school students from discrimination in the college admission process. This bill is awaiting Governor Abbott’s signature.
- The Tim Tebow bill (SB 2046 and HB 347) gained near unanimous support in the Texas Senate with a vote of 27-4, six votes more than the previous session, and was one vote short of passing the House committee, despite strong support on the House floor.
- Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act (SB 414/HB 524) was stalled. Despite working harder than ever to protect single parents’ rights with the third bill, the TPRRA, indifferent key legislators stalled THSC’s bill in committee in both chambers.
Defeating Laws Suppressing Your Freedom
The Watchmen were involved solely or in coalition with other groups in the defeat of 15 bills that would have negatively impacted parental rights on issues such as immunizations and vaccinations, health care, child custody and visitation, end-of-life decisions, and abortions.
THSC joined other pro-family organizations in opposition to Senate Bill 359, which passed the Texas legislature and was sent to the Governor’s desk. This bill would have jeopardized parental rights by placing doctors over parents. After we drafted a letter to Governor Abbott explaining the serious threats presented by the bill, and he received your calls reiterating the concerns, THSC and other groups were able to obtain a veto of the legislation, thereby protecting Texas families in the hospital system.
Guarding Against Potential Threats to Your Freedom
The Watchmen monitored 63 other bills related to parental rights in case they changed form and became a threat on their way through the legislative process. Resolving concerns for Texas families, the team successfully negotiated changes to eight different pieces of legislation in order to protect parental rights, three of which were passed completely and sent to the Governor to sign into law.
Why Protecting Single Parents’ Rights Stalled
After successfully stopping two bills that presented egregious threats to parental rights in the same area of the law, politics reared its ugly head stopping the TPRRA in this session.
Although the THSC Watchmen and THSC’s legal counsel made significant alterations to the bills to accommodate numerous parties, members of the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs turned a blind eye to Texas single parents who are having their rights trampled in the family courts. Senator Brandon Creighton was alone in his public support for the bill on the committee.
Senator and bill author Donna Campbell worked overtime to protect Texas parents and to garner the votes necessary to get the bill out of committee, but was stalemated by the unwillingness of committee members to take a stand on the issue.
In the House, State Rep. Cindy Burkett was able to get the bill a hearing in committee, but the bill failed to get a vote when some members of the House committee refused to take a position until mere days before the deadline.
What about accountability for the CPS?
In order to fix numerous problems in the CPS system after a disturbing review of the program in 2014 shed light on horrific problems in the status quo, legislators designed Senate Bill 206.
Although undoubtedly filed with good intentions, the bill quickly became a source of controversy among conservative activists who disagreed with lawmakers’ assessment of the bill’s merits.
After chasing the bill through the legislative process and providing an extensive list of concerns to the bill’s supporters, key lawmakers remained quiet regarding the bill’s failure to address major issues in the system, as well as a detrimental new provision included in the legislation.
Although State Representatives Bryan Hughes and Scott Sanford fought valiantly to offer key amendments to the bill, Texas House leadership pushed the bill through via procedural gimmicks and last minute intimidation that left Texas families with the short end of the stick.
The Battle for CPS Accountability is Not Over
THSC, in coalition with other major conservative groups, has written a letter outlining a few of the many concerns with the bill and is working currently to try to obtain a veto of the legislation from Governor Abbott. The failure of the Texas Legislature to produce effective reforms to the CPS system in light of the serious shortcomings recognized during the review process, demonstrate a significant disappointment for Texas parents and Texas children. You can take further action on enforcing accountability on CPS with a simple call or email.
Keeping up the Fight
During this legislative session, THSC worked effectively in conjunction with more groups and activists and with a broader range of support than ever. Coalitions and relationships were established, respect was earned, and precedent was set that will provide a launching pad for future legislative efforts to defend parental rights.
As an integral part of the mission of THSC to protect parental rights and home schooling in Texas, the THSC Watchmen and THSC’s legislative efforts continue with vigilance. Legislative work is not a one-time project. Like our mission, it is an ongoing and never ending battle to protect those values that we hold most dear.
God instituted the family unit as a representation of Him, and set the parents as the guardians, teachers, and protectors of that unit. Our work to defend the critically valuable structure of the family comes hand in hand with our fundamental belief in the importance of training up the next generation in the knowledge of the truth and the application of God’s word.
Home schooling is more than an education; it is the opportunity to teach and nurture our children in a lifestyle of righteousness, and to prepare them to face a world that will challenge them on the most fundamental truths.
Whether through public education, traditional private education, or home school education, the right and ability of parents to instill in their children the knowledge of the truth is a cornerstone on which the fate of every value in society is equally dependent. Without the preservation of these ideals, all efforts and sacrifices we make today will be rendered utterly useless when our children grow up tomorrow.
It is with these things in mind that we continue to strive for and to seek God’s wisdom as we renew our efforts to Keep Texas Families Free. Would you like to join THSC in the fight to continue your freedom? Please support THSC today.